University Checklist!

We won’t patronise you by presenting a lengthy list of everything that you need to take with you when you move into University accommodation, as we trust that you’ll remember your toothbrush, bedding other obvious essentials.

However, we thought that we’d provide you with some ideas of little extras that you will definitely find helpful in your years at University.

Inspirational Posters & Photo Frames

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No matter how modern your university accommodation is, you will want to add your own personal touches to the walls. You are likely to experience homesickness in the first few months that you’re away, which is why it is important to take lots of photos of family and friends with you.

University isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes you will feel a little lost, which is why we suggest that you take some prints or posters of the inspirational persuasion. Check out Etsy for some unique wall art!

Memory Sticks

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Pulling an all-nighter and surviving on caffeine pills and self-loathing alone will seem like a terrible waste of time if you don’t back up your work. Laptops can be unreliable, as can University library computers, which is why we suggest investing in a few memory sticks. They will become especially valuable when it comes to writing your assignments, dissertation or thesis.

Sleep Mask & Ear Plugs

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You will want to take a lot of naps throughout the day. We recommend investing in a cute sleep eye mask and pair of ear plugs (which will come in handy when your flatmates are throwing a party and you have an exam at 9am). Some earplugs will be specially formulated that you’ll still hear your alarm in the morning (unfortunately).

Notice Board

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Whether it is primarily used to remind yourself to buy milk, finish your assignments, or for flatmates to leave charmingly abusive messages or pornographic illustrations, you will thank yourself for investing in a practical notice board.

A Shower Caddy

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If you don’t want to leave your pricey Moroccan Oil hair treatments in the bathroom for your sneaky flatmates to audaciously take advantage of, invest in a practical, portable toiletry bag. Look for one with a handle or hook, so that you don’t have to leave it on the bathroom floor.

Academic Diary and Calendar

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University lecturers are not forgiving when it comes to handing in assignments after the deadline. They will fail you. With this in mind, invest in a cute and practical academic diary or academic calendar so you can stay on top of assignments and social events easily.

Get the Right Cards

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You’ll probably do a lot of travelling in your first year at University, to see your high-school friends and to visit home. Invest in a Young Persons Rail Card, which will give you a third off train fares. Similarly, a NUS card will ensure you get student discount at hundreds of shops and restaurants.

First Aid Kit

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Put together a first aid kit and keep it in a clean make-up or toiletry bag. Painkillers, hay fever tablets, plasters, and antiseptic cream should feature.

Free Apps That Will Make Your Life Easier

Make sure your mobile is ready for university too!

My Fitness Pal – An easy way to record what you’re eating with an excellent calorie checker with barcode scanner.

All Recipes – Perfect for days when your fridge looks empty. Input what ingredients you have, and add how much time you want to spend and it will provide you with easy recipes.

Voucher Code – Guarantees discounts and money off at restaurants such as Pizza Express. All you do is press ‘get voucher’ and hand your phone over to the waitress. Easy!

Evernote – A great app for organising your entire life in folders that you can access on your phone, tablet and laptop, even without an internet connection. It works across file formats, so you can save notes in text, image, audio and web links to look at them later.

 

If you are starting, or returning to, University in September, and are looking for Lancaster University accommodation, please do not hesitate to contact us here at City Block! Call us now on +44 (0)1524 541251 for more information.

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Things You Should Know Before Fresher’s Week… Part 2

As discussed in our last post, Fresher’s Week can be both an interesting, enjoyable and even a little confusing time for any new student entering the big and scary world of independence.

Whether a first year student or going into your final year, we are 99.9% sure you’ll have heard enough cringe-worthy stories to make you want to avoid it altogether, or maybe it makes you want to get the UV paint out and get stuck in!

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Whatever your thoughts are towards a week dedicated to boozing, socialising and sleeping – here are a few more things to keep in mind during the mayhem.

4. You WILL NOT die from fresher’s flu… (Although it might feel like it)

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The legend is true, and it’s awful. Yes okay, fresher’s flu exists and there’s near to no way of escaping this nasty little bug – but it will only last a few days and once it’s over – you’ll feel fresh and ready to party… again! It’s all part of the fresher’s experience, right? Sure, you’ll feel rotten and in desperate need of your mummy, but you’ll survive it with a week’s supply of tissues, lockets and a whole lot of Netflix. (If you’re that lucky student who has a Netflix account, that is!)

5. Pace yourself

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Fresher’s week can differ between universities and some universities have fresher’s weeks that go on for a fortnight. That is 14 days straight of partying, socialising and well, acting the fool – so try not to overdo it! Having a night off isn’t embarrassing, and you definitely will not be replaced in your new BFF friendship group if you give it a miss for an evening! Of course you’ll want to be as healthy as you can be for the start of university too… yes?

6. Not all freshers are like you!

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Respect others and their lifestyle choices. Sure, it may sound hard to believe, but not everybody lists fancy-dress and drinking as their hobbies; and likewise some people don’t enjoy computer games and dragons. The beauty of university is that there will always be someone like-minded to become friends with, and although uni can seem like quite a lonely place at the beginning – you’ll soon find the group you fit into and become part of your little uni family.

7. Enjoy it!

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And mostly importantly, enjoy it! You won’t get another week (or two) solely dedicated to drinking your body weight in alcohol, drowning in foam and flirting with strangers ever again…until next year, of course!

Whether you are attending university for the first time this September, or are a later year student – here at CityBlock we offer central student living in the exciting cities of Lancaster and Leicester, so are the ideal option for all Lancaster University and DMU accommodation. For further information or to book a room please contact our friendly team on 01162 517270 or email us at info@cityblock.co.uk!

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Things You Should Know Before Fresher’s Week… Part 1

Fresher’s Week is just around the corner, and as you’re probably experiencing a cocktail of nervousness, excitement and the odd freak-out, here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your first week at university is everything you hope it’ll be.

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1.       The people you live with don’t have to be your BFFs

If you are living in student halls or shared accommodation, it is often presumed that your flatmates and immediate neighbours will be your best friends. Although you share a fridge and toilet with these people, it doesn’t mean that you will all live happily ever after!

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If you’re lucky, you and your new flatmates will be of the same personality, and within minutes of meeting the beers will be flowing and life stories will be shared over a deathly mix of rum, vodka and Sainsburys’ basics ‘fruit juice’. If you end up being a part of the ‘I hate my flatmates club’ and you fear you will be alone forever with your sociopath flatties – don’t worry! This is a common experience for most students, and you will end up making friends with people you like, rather than ones of domestic convenience.

2.        You don’t have to attend every Fresher’s event to have a good time

Alright, we all know fresher’s week is for consuming your body weight in alcohol, going to a notorious ‘white t-shirt party’ (where you’ll scrawl abuse all over random strangers you’ll never see again), and, of course, attending a few ‘school disco’ cringe-themed parties.

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Our only advice – is don’t! Sure the booze is fun, the people are…funny, and the memories are priceless, but you don’t have to attend every single embarrassing event to fill your fresher’s week with fun and bad behaviour! Why not make your own sober fun for an evening, and host your own ‘come dine with me’ or a film night? It’ll provide you with at least a few non-alcohol fuelled memories to tell your mum about!

3.       It’s okay to miss home

No one admits it, but everyone gets a little homesick during the first few weeks of being in the big bad world on your own. Have a sneak peak into any student’s room and there’ll be a teddy bear or hidden blanket lying around.

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Missing your family and friends is completely understandable, and many students drop out after a few weeks because they aren’t yet ready to fly the nest. Make a balance and keep in regular contact with friends, parents and loved ones; after all, that’s what Skype was made for!

CityBlock provide high quality student accommodation in Leicester and Lancaster, so get in contact with our friendly team to discuss your university accommodation in the heart of your chosen student city. Give us a call on 01162 517270 or send an email to info@cityblock.co.uk!

 

 

 

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The Best Music Festivals That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of…

The summer is upon us, as is the end of exams, assignments, dissertations and essays. One of the best ways to celebrate the freedom that comes along with the summer break is to go to a music festival with friends (and beer).

Whilst well known music festivals such as Glastonbury and T in the Park have come and gone, there are many more to look forward to. The immensely popular Leeds and Reading festivals and Creamfields festival are scheduled for August; however, if you’re looking for a festival that is a little more unique this summer, read on…

 

Wilderness

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Wilderness Festival offers boutique camping, banquets, feasting, wilderness cookery school, theatre and sensory performances, the lakeside spa, the wilderness school and sanctuary workshops. The Oxford Shakespeare Company will be performing As You Like It, the Huffington Post will be headlining at the debating halls, and there will be a performance of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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However, this festival isn’t just arts and crafts and yoga – London Grammar and Sam Smith are headlining this year. The festival takes place from the 7th to the 10th of August in Cornbury Park, Oxfordshire.

 

Festival No. 6

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Set in the stunning, Italianate-inspired Welsh coastal village of Portmeirion, the sea, mountains and forests decorate the location of Festival No. 6. The village of Portmeirion was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village, and was the location of cult TV show The Prisoner.

The festival itself takes its name from The Prisoner. The festival offers more than great music; there’s award-winning authors, poets, actors, filmmakers and artists galore at No.6. Headlining this year are the Pet Shop Boys, Beck, London Grammar and Kelis.

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Secret Garden Party

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The Secret Garden Party is an annual independent arts and music festival which takes place in Abbots Ripton near Huntingdon. The festival takes place on the grounds of a Georgian farm house and has its own lake, river and landscaped gardens. The festival was launched as an alternative to the established mainstream music festivals, as it features much more than just music! As well as craft, literature, drama and yoga tents, there’s guerrilla science experiments, a human zoo,   and The Forum – a place for philosophical and societal debate.

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The festival takes place on the last weekend of July, and promises of all kinds of crazy. It really has to be seen to be believed…

If you’re looking for student accommodation in Leicester for after the festival-packed summer break, then please do not hesitate to contact us here at City Block!

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What You Need to Know About Postgraduate Study

book-15584_640The current economic climate means that 85 graduates now apply to each job vacancy.

With that in mind, graduates are looking towards postgraduate degrees in order to set themselves apart from the crowd.

Postgraduate degrees either fall into the category of ‘taught’ or ‘research’. A taught degree is similar to an undergraduate degree; there are seminars, workshops and you complete another dissertation. However, there is more emphasis on independent research. Masters degrees, postgraduate diplomas and conversion courses are all taught postgraduate degrees.

Research postgraduate degrees include MPhils and PhDs. A PhD usually lasts three years, if you study full time, and consists of independent research which results in a thesis (usually of around 80,000 words).  During a PhD you are required to make what is known as a new contribution to knowledge, in other words, you research a topic that hasn’t really been written on before. So, at the end of your PhD you are recognised as an expert in your field.

A postgraduate degree is an investment in your future, so they’re worth thinking carefully about. You may wish to consider the financial implications of carrying on with your studies after graduation, as you can’t get a student loan for postgraduate study.

Studying at a postgraduate level means that you will pick up more transferable skills. You will develop your analytical skills and will be encouraged multiple times to employ good time management and interpersonal organisational skills (as you are required to meet regularly with your supervisor). You will exercise other transferable skills, such as effective communication, project management skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving and independent thinking.

Postgraduate degrees act as conversion courses. At the end of their degree, or after a period of working, many graduates realise they need a more specific degree to pursue their career of choice.  Taught postgraduate courses often provide this combination of specialist and conversion attributes, with many offering different pathways into the course as a whole.

If you’re looking to study an undergraduate degree, or a postgraduate degree, and are looking for student accommodation in Leicester, please do not hesitate to contact us here at City Block!

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You Graduated – What Now?

Congratulations are due to many of our students – both in Lancaster and Leicester – as they’ve finally officially taken that last step from “student” to “graduate”. Whatever your degree, now that you’ve graduated you’ve got a lot to look forward to.

But, as the hangover clears, the biggest question is, what do you do now?

Sleep

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Have a good rest – you deserve it! You can say goodnight to all nighters, cramming sessions, early lectures and everything that goes with university and have a good long nap. Catch up on your beauty sleep now, because when you go on to post-graduate studies or employment, you’ll miss the chance of a good lie-in!

Travel

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If you’re going on to post-graduate studies, this is a perfect time to travel and recharge your batteries before you begin. If you’re looking forward to entering the world of employment, then travel is even more attractive right now – once you’re employed you’ll have to work around holiday allowances and minimum staff coverage, so it won’t be so easy to jet off for a month. Whatever your future plans, travel can also be a great way to broaden your horizons.

Volunteer

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Sleeping until three in the afternoon – as fun as that sounds – isn’t going to be too helpful in the long term, so once you’ve caught up on your forty winks, it’s important to find something to do. Whether it’s to fill time before starting a post-grad or while you’re looking for your dream job, volunteering does good for you and the community, and it looks good on your CV too. You can combine it with travel by volunteering with an international organisation, or you can find a local organisation which needs your help in the UK.

Make the Leap

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Many students feel unsure about what to do after graduation, and it’s no surprise. It’s a big moment – it’s time to take your future in both hands and shake it for all it’s worth. Whatever you choose to do after graduation, do it whole-heartedly and with passion. It may feel like a leap of faith, but it’s worth it.

For those who aren’t graduating this year, at CityBlock we provide high quality student accommodation in Leicester and Lancaster with a great community vibe and everything you need to enjoy student life and prepare for your own graduation day. For more information, get in touch with us today.

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Graduation Photography Tips

After your degree certificate, your graduation portrait may be one of the most important things you take away from university – at least, your parents may think so! Unless you want to be embarrassed for the rest of your days by the picture that graces your parents’ mantelpiece, you’ll want to make sure that you look as good as possible in that all-important photograph.

Dress Well

You may have the choice as to whether you wear the traditional mortar board and gown; really, though, considering you don’t exactly graduate every day, it’s well worth it! Remember that the gowns can sometimes be pretty heavy, and although the hood (the part with the stripes) generally come with a loop to hook onto a button at the front, that only really holds properly if you’re hooking it onto a formal waistcoat. It’ll sit better if you take safety pins and pin it in place instead.

You will also need to consider what you wear with it. Choose something that expresses your personality, but that you won’t mind your granny seeing you in (because you know that your proud parents are going to send copies to everybody!). Avoid busy patterns, because they won’t look good on film, and if you can, choose colours that will complement – or at least not clash with – your graduation gown. Think about the material, too – silk and satin are pretty, but they’ll make the gown slip on your shoulders.

Practice the Pose

You know the drill already; you stand there, you hold the scroll up and you smile. Simple? Not quite. If you know the tricks to a good photogenic pose, you can look tons better.

Firstly, stand at an angle to the camera – put one foot slightly forward, angle your shoulders and turn your head to the camera. This makes you look slimmer than if you’re standing directly face on, and it’s a trick you’ll see almost every celeb using on the red carpet.

Secondly, the trick to avoiding the dreaded double chin grin is to push your head out a bit; stick your forehead out and your chin slightly down while extending your neck. It feels like you’re doing a giraffe impression, but it looks good on camera!

If you have trouble with blinking in pictures, tell the photographer straight away when you walk in, so that they can help you get it right instead of wasting exposures. A good trick is to close your eyes, ask the photographer to count you in, and open your eyes as they take the picture.

Get a friend to hold the camera (or use time delay) and practice before the day itself, and you’ll be able to swoop into the studio like a pro and get the perfect shot.

Attention to Detail

Remember to think about the little things. You’ll most likely be holding up a scroll, so make sure that your fingernails are clean, well manicured, and not displaying chipped nail varnish. If you’re wearing make-up, make sure that it’s well applied and looking fresh.

The photographers will want to get your face looking as open as possible, so they might ask you to brush your fringe back a bit if it’s really heavy, and wear your mortar board towards the back of your head rather than pulled down over your forehead. If you wear any kind of head covering, you may be advised to wear it as far back from the face as you’re comfortable with – if you can, choose a lighter colour which won’t dominate your face as much. The best bet is to take a mirror with you, so that you can check your appearance in the queue.

If you’re not graduating this year, or if you’re moving on to full time post-grad studies and still need student accommodation, our high-quality student flats in Leicester are a great place to stay, with inclusive bills, a great community and a supportive atmosphere for study. For more information, get in touch with us online or call us on +44 (0)116 2517270.

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What’s on Lancaster: June – July 2014

Lancaster, although relatively tiny in size, offers an enormous selection of local music, undiscovered talent, exhibitions and plenty to see and do within its historic walls.

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Lancaster provides the perfect hub of goings on for student life, and offers great day and nightlife options for all personalities. Whether you love art, live music, great ale or beautiful views, Lancaster offers a bit of everything to enhance your time as a student.

Whether you are staying in Lancaster for the summer, or you live here – here’s a quick look at some of the upcoming events this sunshine season!

This Side of the River – Saturday 28th June 3pm – 6pm, Ryelands Park

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This Side of the River, organised by the Friends of Ryelands Park, Lancashire County Council and The Dukes, is a new project set to celebrate Lancaster in all its glory. This year Ryelands Park will see the attempt of breaking the world record of the longest fake moustache and welly-wearing conga line. The event is completely free and offers a fun-filled day for all ages! The day offers plenty of food, creativity and live music including samba-drum beats you can’t help but dance along to from the fantastically unique Batala. For further information and updates please view This Side Of The River’s twitter page and the Batala website. Don’t forget your moustache!

OXYOPIA, Benjamin Oliver – on now until 26th July 2014, Ashton Memorial Gallery

This is Oliver’s first ever solo exhibition, showcasing a new series of works that trace a specific understanding of Ox-yopia, “an extremely heightened acuteness of the eyesight, resulting from the increased sensibility of the retina.”

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The exhibition is truly magical, a beautiful collection of works by this unique and forward-thinking artist. Beautiful paintings, video, sound and visuals fill the stunning venue to immerse viewers into an illusionary and perfectly put together body of work. A must-see for any students or art-lovers in the area! For further information please view Benjamin Oliver online.

Hansel & Gretel, 4th July until 16th August 2014, Williamson’s Park

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If you love theatre with something a little different; head deep into the enchanted woods this summer with The Duke’s performance of the traditional tale of Hansel & Gretel. This magical twist on the classic story is suitable for all ages, with Williamson’s Park offering the perfect backdrop for the deliciously dark journey of forest creatures, bread crumbs, edible houses and baddies. Suitable for all ages over 5 years. To buy tickets please visit The Dukes website.

 

Here at CityBlock, we are dedicated to making your time at university as fun-filled and exciting as possible. Our high quality, affordable and central student accommodations are the perfect place to spend your studying years, and we offer student housing in the exciting cities of both Leicester and student accommodation in Lancaster. For further information or advice please feel free to contact our friendly team on 01524 541 251 or email us at info@cityblock.co.uk today!

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Your Guide to Graduation!

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Your Guide to Graduation!

Exams are (finally) over, dissertations have been handed in, and the sun is shining (for the time being, anyway). Many people will be graduating from university in the coming months, so we at CityBlock would like to share our guide to making the most of your graduation ceremony!

1. Start hinting for your graduation

Traditionally, university graduates will receive a gift to mark this milestone in their life. Gifts can range from champagne or a meal out, to classic pieces of jewellery such as earrings or a watch, to presents of monetary value, and even cars.

Please remember to take your parents financial situation into account before you start hinting! Be gracious, if you don’t receive a physical gift; the emotional and financial support which you may have received throughout your years at university is truly priceless.  Make sure mum and dad know you’re grateful!

2. Get an outfit sorted

In order to avoid looking back at your graduation photos and cringing, invest in a classic outfit for your graduation ceremony. Ladies may wish to consider the faithful little black dress, whilst guys should stick to a classic shirt and tie combo.

However, you may wish to throw caution to the wind and go colourful. After all, nothing much will go with those orange and purple robes anyway.

3. Take great photos

You may feel that you’re too busy and having too much fun to stop and pose for photos, but you won’t regret taking 15 minutes out of your day to pose for a group photo with your friends.

Make sure that one of your relatives or friends captures the all important caps-in-the-air moment!

4. Drink champagne

As a graduate, your days of binge-drinking and sleeping in until 4pm are numbered. Make the most of today and drink as much champagne as you feel is necessary.

Note: Try not to throw up on your rented robes, as this will cost you (both emotionally and financially).

5. Thank the people who’ve helped you get to where you are

Yes, you may have written that horribly arduous dissertation all on your own, and sat through numerous exams without any guidance – but don’t forget to thank the people who helped you get to your graduation.

Thank your parents or guardians. The two minutes it will take for you to say thank you will mean so much to them. Thank any lecturers or academic staff who may have helped you on your way, after all –they have worked to help give you a future.

6. Forgive your undergraduate grudges

The day of your Graduation ceremony is not one to harbour grudges. After all, you will be moving onwards and upwards, and you don’t want to take old animosities with you. A smile will cost you nothing (and you will appear très mature).

9. Remember…

Life will not give you grades, but it will test you.

Adopt the mantra ‘proceed and be bold’ and look to your future as a graduate with positivity and optimism. Oh, and when the excitement from the day has died down, you may wish to sign up to a site like Prospects.co.uk. Prospects is the official graduate careers website, and is a great way to find work experience, internships and even a graduate job. It’s a great way to ease yourself into the ‘real world’ which everyone goes on about so intently…

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Don’t worry if you feel like this guy on graduation day. It’s totally okay to not know what your next step is going to be!

If you are not graduating this year, and you are looking for student accommodation in Leicester, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us here at CityBlock.

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The Perks of Student Life

The university years – a young person’s dream of free money (for now), free time and plenty of perks: DISCOUNTS!

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The time you spend at university will be some of the most fun and outgoing years of your life, providing you with plenty of advantages and opportunities to live the real student dream.

Student life can be the doorway to receiving discounts in your favourite shops, restaurants and online retailers alongside the perfect financial situation of interest-free overdrafts and not having to pay tax. There are plenty of perks to being a student, and you will be surprised how many establishments that you may not have known about actually offer a student discount.

So, here are just a few examples of the best offers for you to take full advantage of, and enjoy living the student dream!

cityblock2We are all well aware of the well-known student discount cards; however, this one could just be the crème de la crème of student discount! UNiDAYS provides discounts for over 3.3 million students across the globe, offering a huge range of brands at discount prices – both in-store and online retailers, ensuring you have the best threads and up-to-date technologies at lovely prices. Brands in collaboration with UNiDAYS include: Cath Kidston, French Connection, Paperchase, FootAsylum, Jack Wills, Asos, Urban Outfitters, Schuh, Ann Summers, Spotify, Topshop & Topman and Apple. Discounts range from 10% – 25% and the service is completely FREE! Sign yourself up today at the UNiDAYS website – all you need is your uni email address to confirm your place of study. Easy, eh?

Student bank accounts

The world would be a very happy place if all bank accounts came with the idyllic advantages of a student account. Banks love enticing students to open bank accounts, offering a range of various freebies in order to compete with the competition. Apart from the ever-tempting interest-free overdraft that will also allow you an extra year of 0% interest after you complete your studies, some banks offer useful freebies including a free rail card, Tastecard membership or an NUS Extra card. A top tip for choosing the right bank for you is to consider the largest 0% overdraft you can receive, unless the huge freebies beat it. Avoid picking a branch just because it is the closest, and never go over your overdraft limit! You will be credit-scored so do your research and make sure you find the perfect account to suit your needs!

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Enjoy the longest summer holidays ever

With summer just around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to do the things that you really want to do during the long holiday period. Luckily, university tends to give you a very lengthy summer break, some being up to 4-5 months long! And with all that free time, it makes perfect sense to bite the bullet and book that road trip or music festival you have been umm-ing and ahh-ing about.

Some music festivals offer discount ticket prices for students or pay-monthly instalment plan options to make purchasing a ticket that little bit easier! Another great way of attending the top music festivals of the year if on a budget is to volunteer with various festival companies including Oxfam and Festaff! By volunteering at various summer events, festival goers’ are able to enjoy the music and work short shifts in return for their ticket.

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If wanting to jet set around the UK, or maybe further afield, make plans with the mates you’ve met at uni and arrange to stay with them for free accommodation across your travels – just be sure to return the favour! If you haven’t got a car or a mate with a car, organise a group of friends and use public transport. Who knows where you will end up? Also, by taking camping gear with you, you can save money on accommodation costs and enjoy the outdoors in a fun and unique way!

Whether you are soon to be enjoying your first or last student summer, here at CityBlock, we are dedicated to providing students with quality for money and high standard student accommodation in the vibrant cities of Lancaster and Leicester. We offer student living for all year students including De Montfort University accommodation and University of Cumbria accommodation. For more information regarding our student housing facilities please feel free to get in touch with our friendly team on 01524 541251 today!

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